This is very confusing topic and thought I should make a note of it. Most of the time people are confused about what they need for their business. Hope the article will help you to understand WebSphere Application Server packaging while taking the decision.
WebSphere Application Server is available on a range of platforms and in multiple packages to meet specific business needs. Because different application scenarios require different levels of application server capabilities, WebSphere Application Server is available in multiple packaging options. Although these options share a common foundation, each provides unique benefits to meet the needs of applications and the infrastructure that supports them.
The four main packages we will be covering in Understand WebSphere Application Server packaging are as follows

  1. WebSphere Application Server Express
  2. WebSphere Application Server Base
  3. WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment
  4. WebSphere Application Server Liberty Core

Details about each packages are as follows

  1. WebSphere Application Server Express
    The express package provides a fully functional, affordable, and easy-to-use Java application server and development environment. This package is designed for a single server, with a maximum of 480 processor value units. It is limited to a 32-bit application server implementation.
  2. WebSphere Application Server Base
    In addition to the functionality supported by the Express runtime, the base application server product delivers high performance and a high scalable transaction engine for dynamic e-business application. The base package provides the same functionality as the express packages, but an expanded license agremment supportes the ability to federate an application server node to a WebSphere Deployment Manager cell. This packages is ideal for lightweight application solutions where cost and simplicity are key. This package offers unlimited CPUs per server and unbeatable platform coverage.
  3. WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment
    In addition to the functionality provided in the Base / Express packages, the Network Deployment package delivers:

    • World-class clustering and high availability management to help eliminate the cost of system downtime.
    • Edge components, which offer sophisticated load balancing, caching, and centralized security for enhanced performance at the edge of the network.
    • Advanced Web services capabilities to enable you to connect to systems outside the firewall and across disparate application frameworks.
    • Extended Web services management and advanced remote administration to make management of more complex environments less time-consuming and resource-consuming.

    To install WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment package on Ubuntu check this.

  4. WebSphere Application Server Liberty Core
    New with V8.5.5, WebSphere Application Server Liberty Core is a lightweight and low-cost run time that provides the capabilities to rapidly build and deliver web applications that do not require the full Java EE stack. Liberty core is a production-ready run time that provides support for most of the features included with the Liberty profile that is included with the other WebSphere Application Server packages.

For more information you can check the IBM documentation which compares the WebSphere Application Server editions in detailed manner.

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Understand WebSphere Application Server packaging
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